Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Will the Bands Play On?

Maybe it’s the sea of American flags. Or perhaps it’s the patriotic marches. But a Harvard University study has concluded that annual patriotic parades may actually cause children and adults to support more right-leaning, conservative causes and candidates. U.S. News and World Report carried the study:

“Fourth of July celebrations in the United States shape the nation’s political landscape by forming beliefs and increasing participation, primarily in favor of the Republican Party,” said the report from Harvard.

“The political right has been more successful in appropriating American patriotism and its symbols during the 20th century. Survey evidence also confirms that Republicans consider themselves more patriotic than Democrats. According to this interpretation, there is a political congruence between the patriotism promoted on Fourth of July and the values associated with the Republican Party. Fourth of July celebrations in Republican dominated counties may thus be more politically-biased events that socialize children into Republicans…”

The study says that while Democrats also participate in these parades, it’s the Republicans who enjoy the long-term support. If July 4 celebrations are attended before a child turns 18, the likelihood of him or her identifying as a Republican later on increases by 2 percent. But, it’s not only about the children. The likelihood that parade watchers will vote for a GOP candidate is increased by 4 percent. Actual voter turnout is even said to increase by 1 percent, with the chance that these individuals will dole out political contributions increasing by 3 percent.

The report, written by Harvard Kennedy School Assistant Professor David Yanagizawa-Drott and Bocconi University Assistant Professor Andreas Madestam, finds that the aforementioned results don’t simply last for a short time, then dissipate:

“Surprisingly, the estimates show that the impact on political preferences is permanent, with no evidence of the effects depreciating as individuals become older. While this is certainly not good news for Democratic candidates (many of whom, like their Republican counterparts, attend these events for the public relations and electoral benefits), the study provides intriguing information that helps Americans better understand how political inclinations are formed and impacted.”

The Tea Parties have certainly discovered the efficacy of joining in Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day parades. If a fire department holds a parade, they should inquire about attending those as well. One of our local tea parties is marching in Ridgewood, N.J.’s 4th of July parades. There are a lot of “don’ts” on Ridgewood’s list, but at least the Tea Party will get some exposure, without the incredible of effort of staging a rally.

Take it from a long-time parade musician, marching is less labor-intensive, at least in the long-run, than trying to stage an outdoor rally. Bureaucrats help make rallies more difficult. But at least the Tea Party doesn’t have to try to organize the parade; they just have to show up – and it’s guaranteed they’ll be seen by lots of people, especially if the weather is good.

I’d like to join North Jersey Tea Party on their parade, but I’ve been booked for years now with my marching band. Carrying an American flag would be easier than carrying the bells, but not nearly as musical. It would be cooler, too. I wish Morristown Tea Party would apply to march in the Chatham parade. My band might even be stationed in front of them.

The Progressives have been trying to discourage march music for years now. My first high school band director and his assistant hated it. They insisted music was just a form of propaganda, to get everyone in a positive mood for battle. Marches are very upbeat and will get you in the mood to do anything from housework to marching in 90 degree heat on the Fourth of July.

Needless to say, the Progressives haven’t approved of all this positive patriotism. They’ve done their best to remove patriotic music from Fourth of July fireworks concerts. The Ramsey Wind Symphony is scheduled to play at 8 p.m. this evening at Finch Park in Ramsey. For the last two or three years, the organizers (one of whom is a notorious Liberal) has managed to squeeze the band off the schedule.

Whether the band goes on tonight is anyone’s guess. They’ve been advertised as part of the show and the organizers gave Ramsey’s director, Charles Yassky, their solemn vow that the band will play. We’ll see. I hope the Bergen County Tea Party sees this blog and goes to the park tonight (8 p.m. for the concert) in support of the RWS and patriotic music.

There are no fireworks or bands of any sort in Bloomingdale this year, due to “budget constraints.” For the same last two years, the Bloomingdale Band has not played, although the fireworks still went on and a DJ was present to play some decidedly unpatriotic rock music. Well, not “unpatriotic”; just music that had more to do with freedom of sex rather than freedom in general.

On Monday, I will be playing with my band in Florham Park and Chatham for their annual Fourth of July parades. Chatham, in particular, has some of the best, most patriotic crowds anywhere. The scene is just a sea of American flags all the way down the street. We’ll see if we can get a photo of the crowds at a point where the parade usually stops. Either Ellyn the piccolo player will take, I’ll take it and hand my bells to an assistant, or hand my camera to one of our assistants.

The sight, in all the many years we’ve done this parade, has never ceased to stir my patriotic spirit and love of America. This is what it’s all about – all the rehearsals, all the miles we’ve marched, all the heat and tired feet we’ve endured – to see those people packing both sides of the street, cheering us on and waving their American flags.

The American flag is the best-looking flag in the whole world and I never tire of seeing it, whether atop a high flagpole, waving in the breeze on a sky-blue day, or by the hundreds waved by little hands, old hands, young hands, and hands of every color and shape. My father never approved; he thought it was jingoism. But Dad was your typical, jaded journalist. Mom knew better. She said that it was okay to wave the flag on the Fourth of July and to pay no attention to Dad.

Still, we need to beware of the Progressives on this matter. They’re looking for a way to take the joy out of our Fourth of July celebrations. They’ve pretty well managed to remove the music at the concerts (though not the flags). The parades appear to be their next target.

Our band will play on, though. Look for us in Florham Park and Chatham. We’ll be looking for you, proudly waving your American flags.

God Bless America!!

Friday, July 01, 2011

Judge George

Fox News has revealed that billionaire George “Spooky Dude” Soros has been advocating for the creation of state committees to appoint non-federal judges rather than being elected by voters.

“Most non-federal judges around the country are selected by voters in elections,” the report says. “But some states use a process called “merit selection” in which a committee – often made up of lawyers – appoints judges to the bench instead.

“Merit selection would end the money race and get judges out of the fundraising business,” Lynn Marks, executive director of Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts -- a group that has received money from Soros’ Open Society Institute -- told

“But critics say that if judges are picked by committee -- often, a committee of lawyers -- that will give left-wing judges the upper hand.

“Billionaire George Soros spends tens of millions each year supporting a range of liberal social and political causes, from drug legalization to immigration reform to gay marriage to abolishing the death penalty. But a less well-known Soros priority -- replacing elections for judges with selection-by-committee -- now has critics accusing him of trying to stack the courts.

“Soros has spent several million dollars in the past decade in an attempt to get more states to scrap elections and adopt the merit method. Supporters say it would allow judges to focus on interpreting the law rather than on raising campaign funds and winning elections.

“The left can’t get their agenda through the legislatures anymore … so they think they can get their agenda through by taking over the courts,” attorney Colleen Pero, author of a new report titled "Hijacking Justice," told

“Pero’s report found that Soros, through his Open Society Institute fund, has given $45 million over the last decade to “a campaign to reshape the judiciary.” But that number is hotly contested by Justice at Stake, the group that got the most Soros money.

“It’s a horrendously bogus distortion of numbers,” Charlie Hall, a spokesman for Justice at Stake, told Hall said the $45 million figure included groups that dealt with legal issues but had no position on merit selection. He added that he could only identify $2 million from Soros that went to groups that actively support replacing elections with “merit selection.”

In an analysis of the Open Society Institute's tax returns from the last ten years, found more than $5 million was explicitly earmarked for projects about either “merit selection” or “judicial selection.”

“For example, OSI reported giving $90,000 to Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts in 2007 to expand and grow a coalition in support of merit selection. It also reported giving $50,000 to Justice at Stake in 2006 to support "public education regarding merit selection."

“OSI gave another $7 million-plus to Justice at Stake, or to partner organizations with specific directions to support JAS's activities. Some recipients of Soros' money were eager to defend ‘merit selection,’ and said they only wished Soros would give more money to the cause. ‘We are very grateful for their support of our efforts,’ Marks said. Her group received more than $500,000 over the last decade, but has not received money from OSI since 2008.

“Elections, she added, discourage competent lawyers from becoming judges just because they aren’t good politicians. ‘They don't put their name in for nominations because they think they don't have the political connections or access to dollars.’ And judges, she said, should be kept apart from political forces. ‘Judges should resolve disputes based on evidence -- they're not supposed to be responsive to public pressure.’

“But Pero pointed to a study by prominent law professors that found elected judges were, if anything, more independent and took on larger workloads than judges appointed by committee.

“We began this project with the assumption that the data would demonstrate that appointed judges are better than elected judges," the authors note, adding that after looking at their result: "It may be that elected judges are, indeed, superior to appointed judges."

“And, Pero says, “merit selection” is inherently undemocratic.

“It would be a handful lawyers who would select judges… with elections, the people actually have a say.”

“Marks said it is wrong to call the merit selection un-democratic.

“Merit selection requires a change in the Constitution, so a bill must... go before the public. So when people say, ‘oh, you're changing the way we vote’ -- yes, but only if the people want to change the way we vote."

This is an important report by Fox News. We have legal experts claiming that judges shouldn’t be subject to public pressure, popular opinion, which is true. But they should be held accountable for usurping powers not granted to them but to the legislative and executive branches of the government. State laws vary however and corruption is rife in areas where citizens don’t pay as much attention to the machinations of their specific judiciaries.

Right now, New Jersey is on the brink of – if it hasn’t done so already – appointing its first Muslim Superior Court justice. The Progressives bewail the corruption of Big Corporate money buying influence in the legislature – and now they want to extend that corruption to an already questionable legal system.

We, the People, need to be on the alert and overrule “Judge George.”

An Unnecessary Evil

The Muslim Brotherhood, once outlawed in Egypt, has had a rebirth in its relations with the United States during the Arab Spring. Their friendship with America is now in full bloom here at the beginning of summer. According to, the U.S. is formally resuming contact with the organization, thanks to its rise in political promise after the riots in Cairo and the hasty departure of former Pres. Hosni Mubarak, a pro-Israel tyrant.

One senior U.S. official told Reuters, on condition of anonymity, that the re-establishment of contact is ‘necessary.” Why “necessary”? How “necessary” can it be to aide and abet in the establishment of a worldwide caliphate?

“The political landscape in Egypt has changed, and is changing,” the official said. “It is in our interests to engage with all of the parties that are competing for parliament or the presidency.”

Founded in 1927, the Muslim Brotherhood has previously communicated with the U.S. through Brotherhood Members of Parliament who had been technically elected as independents. U.S. diplomats were instructed only to deal with Brotherhood members in their role as Members of Parliament, according to Politico.

Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Mohamed Saad el-Katatni told Reuters that no American contact with the group has yet been made, but he added: “We welcome such relationships with everyone because those relations will lead to clarifying our vision.”

In recent years, the Muslim Brotherhood claims to have renounced violence. The group is not considered a foreign terrorist organization by the United States – but organizations sympathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood, like Hamas, have not renounced violence against Israel.

Really? It must be only very recently. Sheikh Abdel-Rahman was a member of the Brotherhood and spent time in jail with leading Brotherhood member Sayyid Qutb. Qutb had very pronounced notions about overthrowing Western society – one way or another.

“We do not live by ourselves in this world,” Qutb wrote in Social Justice in Islam, “nor can we live in isolation from it. Thus our interests and our needs are interwoven with this present world, which is coverned by a certain form of civilization involving an outloook completely contradictory to that of Islam. This we shall see later. In one respect, this fact will slow down our pgoress along the path of renewing the true islamic form of live, and in another respect, it will lay additional responsibilities upon us.

“The importance of this last consideration is enhanced by the fact that this Western world with which our interests are interwoven is at the present moment [1953] stronger than we; we do not have today the control over it, or the strength equal to its strength, that we had in the first age of Islam. At the same time, it is hostile to us and in particular, hostile to our religion. Therefore, it wil not permit us to produce a new Islamic system or to renew a truly Islamic form of life, however great the effort we put forth. This result we could only hope for only if we had control of the Western world, if our strength were comparable to its, or if it were honest with us and with our religion to which we seek to return.

“But all this does not mean that return to the Islamic system is impossible. All that it means is that this is a great and difficult task, requiring extraordinary effort. Above all, it demands courage to believe in it, boldness to face the inevitable obstances, patience to endure the hard word demanded, and faith to believe that this is necessary for Islamic society and for mankind as a whole. It demands the fostering of a constructive and positive mentality, whose task will be not simply toe elevate the existing state of things, but rather to produce a new and perfect state. This is our task.”

Qutb went on to quote playwright George Bernard Shaw: “I forecast that the religion of Muhammad wil be accepted in Europe in the near future, for it has already started to gain some acceptance. The priests of the Middle Ages insisted on portraying Islam in the darkest colors, either out of ignorance, or from criminal bigotry. They went to extremes in their hatred of Muhammed in his religion; indeed, they held him to be the anti-Christ. For myself, I find it preferable to call Muhammad the savior of mankind, and I believe that if such a man were given authority over the modern world, he would succeed in solving its problems and giving it peace and happiness.

“Europe has seen a great advance in the past years of the twentieth century, and has even started to respect the faith of Muhammad. It may be in the century that lies ahead Europe will make further progres, and will acknowledge the contribution of this faith towards of solution of its problems. Many among my own nation and among all European nations already belong to the religion of Muhammad, a fact which enables us to say that the conversion of Europe to Islam has already begun.” Nur al-Islam Magazine, 1934.

Politico notes that Obama’s 2012 Election campaign vanguard are worried about the Jewish vote. There aren’t that many who are actually concerned about the state of Israel; the young see the Jewish state as a pawn in a bid for global power. Obama’s infamous, dismissive conduct towards Prime Minister Netanyahu, his campaign speeches to the pre-Arab Spring crowds in Cairo, his statements declaring that he’s a “citizen of the world” are sufficient proof of his state of mind. His opening up diplomatic relations – before they’re even actually elected (although there’s little doubt of it) – with the Muslim Brotherhood is one more piece of evidence of our “President’s” inclination towards a worldwide Islamic caliphate.

Egypt will hold parliamentary elections in September, and the country’s military government has promised an election for president by the end of this year.  The race is on for our own 2012 elections. Will our own elections come in time to dislodge this near-traitorous president before the Islamists solidify their evil plans and plunge the world into a global tyranny - and will the Conservatives produce a leader strong enough to stave off the threat?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Classless Society

“New York, New York, it’s a helluva town!” On the Town, 1944

The dream of every American communist, whether they pose as a Liberal, Progressive, Socialist or whatever name they’ve dreamt up for themselves, is to transform the United States of America into a “classless” society, succeeded the other night in Bryant Park in New York City.

Radio and TV host Glenn Beck and his wife Tania, at the suggestion of his daughter Hannah, went to Bryant Park for the HBO-sponsored Bryant Park Film Festival 2011, held every Monday night. Monday’s movie was Alfred Hitchcock’s 1935 classic, The 39 Steps, about a London man who tries to help a counterespionage agent and ends up being accused of his murder.

Glenn has been around New York City for quite awhile, having been on CNN, but has only become a true celebrity in the last two years or so since he began his conservative program on Fox News and took on Liberal icons such as George Soros.

Glenn and his family arrived early to spread out their blankets. As soon as the keen-eyed New Yorkers spotted him (who famously never look up from their brisk walks to their destinations), they began texting and tweeting about his unwelcome presence. They also began harassing him and his wife and daughter.

One angry, 20-something Liberal, according to reports from Glenn’s news organization, The Blaze, was tweeting about the notion of, among other things, spilling wine on them and rousing the crowd up to such a state that they would chase him the length of Manhattan and run him off the island to Staten Island.

Someone did spill what she and Glenn claimed was a glass of wine. The woman sneeringly admits that it had to have been more than half a glass of wine since both Tania and Hannah were soaked. Glenn says no one came to the family’s assistance. The twitter brained woman says people did come to them with napkins. Certainly no one called out the offenders, who insisted the incident was ‘accidental.’

But The Blaze uncovered tweets and photos from someone with this woman’s online name. In one photo, and subsequent tweet, she brags about holding up a sign that says “Fascist Pig” behind him and having a friend take the shot. The photos – in fact, the whole account – were removed.

The reporter also uncovered the name of the woman’s employer ( – a provocative name), as well as past employers (Pepsico). If the information is correct, she’s an advertising and marketing “strategist,” nearer to 30 than 20. If she has an MBA, that means she’s held four jobs in five years. According to her own accounts, Glenn’s security team had to speak to this woman and her companions about their behavior. Some taunts in The Blaze’s “Comments” section on this story criticize his security team. Glenn, being a gentleman, probably instructed them to do nothing.

New York is a terrible city in which to be a Conservative, much less a Conservative celebrity. Already known for their rude, brusque, and frankly nasty manner, you couldn’t expect any better behavior from them than what they displayed in Bryant Park.

New York isn’t just the financial capital of the world – it’s also a “college town” – New York University, Columbia, Hunter, Pace, Adelphi, CUNY, Fordham, Manhattan College, The New School, Pratt, Wagner College, just to name a few. The Big Apple is also famous for its Broadway Theaters, its art galleries, and the United Nations. This is the city that even after the 9/11 attacks has no problem with Muslims building a mosque on the perimeter of Ground Zero.

New Jersey commuters (not so much Long Islanders) tend to shun the city once their workday is done. On any given day, throngs of commuters would stream up into the World Trade Center from the PATH trains, and the same number hurried right back onto the PATH train again to go home. The commuters heading for the Port Authority buses back to Jersey act pretty much the same way. Heaven help you if you fall out of the line of bus commuters. They will stampede you if you try to get back into the line.

Liberals, Progressives, whoever they are, desire a classless society. Their performance in Bryant Park was a good start. No matter what you think of this man, he’s a resident and had an absolute right to sit in that park unaccosted by anyone. If you have a problem with him, call his show and tell him. Better yet, start your own show, blog, YouTube site and criticize him all you want.

This sort of mob mentality, cat-calling someone who “dares” to take up residence in “your” city and threatening to run them out of town, is the path to anarchy and tyranny. We were better than that in the Tea Party. When it was suggested we hold our first rally in Newark, we said, “No way.”

No one came to the Beck’s assistance, Glenn says, or defense, to tell these croissant cretans to knock it off. Being New York, that’s hardly surprising. The name “Kitty Genovese” comes to mind. Rumor is that this murdered woman was a prostitute and possibly even a lesbian and so her Queens’ neighbors turned a deaf ear. Others say none of it is true, that the murderer didn’t give her a chance to cry out. The first lesson in New York attitude-training is MYOB (Mind Your Own Business).

Unless you see a Conservative celebrity. Then you’re at liberty to run them out of town on a ferry, douse them with whatever liquor you have handy, accost them in the rest room, and generally disrupt whatever peaceful activity in which they had been engaged until you came along.

The Liberals (there’s no doubt about their partisan politics, so the word “Liberal” absolutely applies) cry tit for tat. Glenn and his “ilk” oppose homosexuality, fake science, illegal immigrants, Obamacare, and unions, so he’s got what’s coming to him.

They brag that they cheered as he left – after the movie was over. Well, we Conservatives applaud Glenn, too. For being the white-hat wearing, Good Guy, the Gary Cooper hero of the movie.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

RGGI Strikes Back

Just when we thought our electricity rates were safe, the N.J. Senate voted today to override Gov. Christie’s veto of the RGGI (Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative) bill – Resolution ACR-195. The Liberal Left is continuing its counter-attack against Gov. Christie's decision to pull New Jersey out of the RGGI Cap & Trade scheme.   Tomorrow, the N.J. Assembly will vote on an override, so we need to get the message to them to support Christie’s veto and get our state out of this Progressive Ponzi Power Scheme. 
The Tea Party has sent out a notice saying that we believe it will raise electricity rates and cost jobs. This is not merely a belief; it’s a dead certainty, a sure thing, a foregone conclusion – it’s a fact.

Supporters of RGGI promote it as the first market-based regulatory program in the United States to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Ten Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states have capped and will reduce CO2 emissions from the power sector 10 percent by 2018.  Market-based our tea party signs!

States sell nearly all emission allowances through auctions and invest proceeds in consumer benefits: energy efficiency, renewable energy, and other clean energy technologies. RGGI is spurring innovation in the clean energy economy and creating green jobs in each state.

What it’s actually doing is punishing businesses, already overwhelmed by New Jersey’s taxes, and driving them, and the jobs they provide, out of the state. New Jersey residents will be left with the burden of extremely high and unaffordable electric bills.

This bogus, eco guilt-trip legislation will do nothing more than increase government’s over-reach into our private lives and the business of doing business. The clean energy technologies the progressives promote will do nothing for our increasing energy needs. Real science has proven that not one of them can produce energy efficiently – certainly not by 2018. Studies have proven that green jobs have cost the state jobs, not created them. These “auctions” are nothing but a shake-down of businesses and, by default, consumers.

The legislation is in its last stages. If the Assembly cannot or will not support the governor, one more foundation will be laid for a bureaucratic, anti-Capitalist, anti-freedom government. This is the ultimate “power-grab”.

Send a message to your N.J. Assemblyman immediately, demanding that they vote against this override of Gov. Christie’s veto of the RGGI bill. This is our last chance in New Jersey for the people to keep their power.   The Assembly will vote on this on Wednesday (tomorrow) June 29th.  Our representatives in the Assembly need to hear from us!

Here's a sample of what you can say to the N.J. Assembly Legislators:

"I'm calling to tell Assemblyman/woman (insert name) that I want NJ out of RGGI (Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative), and want him/her to vote "NO" on A4108 and resolution ACR -195. I believe it will raise electricity rates and cost jobs."

When you call you will get an aide and they will communicate your message to the legislator. They may also ask your town to determine that you are in their district.   It is important to call your legislator whether they are for or against RGGI.   Both need to know that you are a citizen that is tuned in and active.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Christie Slam-Dunks the Press

NBC’s Meet the Press host David Gregory tried to get N.J. Gov. Christie to eat his words. All he got were even more determined words. Gregory was trying to get Christie to admit that he sometimes goes overboard in blasting his critics, only to get blasted himself.

Gregory played back for the videotape of a woman at a town hall meeting attempting to lance the governor by questioning why he sent his children to parochial school instead of public school.

Christie’s answer, as we all know, was: ‘it’s none of your business.’ He reiterated to Gregory how Christie and his wife made the personal decision to send their children to a parochial school, how they for it themselves in addition to the property taxes they pay, and how he thinks every family in the state should have that same chance.

Bravo for Gov. Christie (and his wife)!

New Jersey is a tough little state and Christie is a tough guy. Gregory challenged him on his willingness to be interviewed and answer the tough questions. Christie reminded him that he was being interviewed and he had answered the question. Gregory just didn’t particularly like it. Neither will any of the union-member teachers in the Garden State.


As long as the governor is in his best tough-guy mode, there’s another tough issue we’d like to see him tackle – the appointment of Sohail Mohammed to the Superior Court of New Jersey. The New Jersey State Senate Judiciary Committee will be considering this appointment today, with a possible full vote following the committee meeting.

Right now, it might seem like a good, political decision, a way to pick up votes in cities like Paterson with large Muslim communities. With the elections coming up, our senators will be tempted to approve this appointment. In this politically-correct climate in which we find ourselves, it’s considered not only thinkable but highly dangerous to contest appointing a Muslim to our Superior Court.

Every conservative scholar knowledgeable on the subject has written that the Muslims are playing a deceitful game of Good Muslim/Bad Muslim. Organizations such as CAIR (the Council on American-Islamic Relations) have one goal in mind – the establishment of Sharia law in the United States. The governor can consult such authors as Mark Levin, Lawrence Wright, Gerald Posner, Robert Spencer, Ronald Kessler, Norman Podhoretz, Brigitte Gabriel, and Andrew McCarthy. McCarthy was a U.S. District Attorney, so Christie ought to be able relate.

Despite their manifest friendliness, the moderate Muslims seek the same thing their radical brothers do – a worldwide Islamic caliphate. There is no middle ground for them; it’s their way or the highway. Moderate Americans seek to build bridges between the two cultures; the Muslims seek to build a one-way bridge over which they will drag us and separate us from our heritage and our freedom. Once over their bridge, there is no going back.

We Tea Partiers would ask Gov. Christie to seriously reconsider this nomination. The short-term political gains aren’t worth the long-term loss of every sort of freedom we are privileged to enjoy in America. The terrorists who struck on 9/11 didn’t operate in a vacuum. Their whole culture revolves around this one overriding goal. They are not what politicians think they are or wish they were.

Once they are in power – as the governor is about to place one of them – they will never relinquish their position. By the time we realize that we were wrong to trust them, it will be too late, just as it was on 9/11.

Then, when we object and try to undo the damage, their answer will be, “Tough.”

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The New Generation Gap

Matthew Shaffer has a very interesting article in the June 20th issue of the National Review about social media’s effect on the Generation Gap. He says that between trendy retirement communities, highways, suburbs, and social media, the gap between the generations is growing ever wider.

Young people today have a loathing of the elderly and dying. To young people, the elderly are troublesome, cranky, and hard to get along with. However, older people are being shipped to those retirement communities in cattle cars; they’re entering quite willingly. It takes two to make a generation gap and this generation of senior citizens doesn’t suffer foolish children and grandchildren lightly.

Shaffer notes that if families kept their communities together, that grandparents would be available to look after their young grandchildren while the moms go to work. NR is published in New York City. Young families are fleeing grandma and grandpa; they’re fleeing the rising taxes in New York and New Jersey, bound for places like South Carolina where the living is cheaper and easier.

Families are also being forced to flee because their companies are fleeing those states. My co-workers have that option before them: move to Georgia or Texas, or start looking for another company. Some of them are mobile and are glad to leave, as parents and grandparents already live in those places. Others aren’t mobile unless they can persuade their families to go with them.

Friends have asked me why I don’t go to Atlanta or Dallas.  They can read all about it in Shafer’s article, Ages Apart. Mom is too old at this point to be moving.   Facebook is wonderful for keeping up with distant friends.   But human beings, if they’re to remain human, need human contact, face to face, mano o mano.  My brothers (being Mama’s Boys) do the bulk of the caregiving (one helps her with electronic business transactions, the other does the manual labor, and they both keep her busy cooking). My job is cheerleader and referee. I’m also the stand-by caregiver.

Frankly, any family who doesn’t take up our company’s offer to move someplace – anyplace, else is out of their minds. The pioneers took up roots and moved West. They had to – and they didn’t have cell phones, digital cameras, laptops or Facebook. Mom and Dad weren’t a phone call away. Letters took weeks to arrive and one party or the other could be dead from any number of diseases including smallpox, diphtheria, consumption (tuberculosis) or an Indian attack before the letter came.

Any number of things about the younger generations annoy the elderly no end, beginning with their music. They don’t go to the theaters because the Surround-Sound would render them permanently deaf and the new 3-D films won’t endear themselves to our seniors. Profanity is another biggie with the seniors. They just don’t think it’s “cute” when they find tiny little Caitlin, all of 2 years old, has learned the “fudge” word before she’s learned to say her bedtime prayers.

The kids are rude, disrespectful, undisciplined and unpleasant to be around. Some grandparents, desperate to be with their grand off-spring, will put up with just about any sort of behavior. Others head for the retirement community where the rules absolve them from overnight babysitting chores.

Many of the seniors agree with Shaffer: Facebook’s okay, but it shouldn’t be a substitute for real human contact. Some of them shun electronics altogether, knowing it’s a trap for the lazy. They’re not cranky; they’re just right but the younger generation is tuning them out.

Kids have been tuning out the older generation since the 1960s or even earlier. “Never trust anyone over 30.” The divide began with rock music and widened as the drug culture wrapped our society in a moral haze. If you can’t see where you’re going, you will eventually drive off the road.  Facebook is just the new way to rude, crued, and booed.

My friend moved to California in 1979 and didn’t return to this area until this past week. We reconnected on Facebook. She had a lot of stops to make and couldn’t stay long. Basically, we just had enough time to catch up and then she was off again. She was always that way. Sometimes, friends move away but it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to drift completely apart, though your lives aren’t as closely intertwined as they were.

When we were both younger, while she was still living here, she cautioned me that she had three kids, many friends, and many more activities. If I could live with that, we’d be okay. As it happened, I enjoyed hearing about all her adventures and still do, so we’re still okay.

We left Westchester County when I was just a baby, and my mother left all her closest friends behind when we moved out to California. Finally, we moved back East to New Jersey, within fairly easy driving distance and a telephone call from those friends. One friend died, her sister has become too frail for visitors. Two newer friends moved away, one to Oregon, the other back to Holland. Mia and Mom corresponded for a quite a long time, but illness and age have come between them at last.

Facebook wouldn’t be my first choice for maintaining a relationship. But I’d rather do things electronically than not at all. A fiber optic cable always trumps a broken heart.